The Swiss firm, Proton Technologies AG, which runs services like ProtonMail and ProtonVPN , has been awarded €2 million by the European Union in order to develop a suite of encrypted services. Despite the firm being headquartered outside of the EU, Switzerland has bilateral agreements with the EU that qualified firms in the country for the Horizon 2020 funding which this €2 million was awarded under.
Proton also pointed out that around 40% of all its users live in the EU and that 20% of its workforce is based in offices located in the Czech Republic and Lithuania which further justifies the award.
In its blog post, Proton said that the funding represents the EU aligning with the firm's privacy stance:
“The EU has now clearly signaled its support for privacy rights and is betting on Proton Technologies to deliver a European answer to the data mining monopolies of US tech giants like Google. In summary, we have not just gained a meaningful amount of funding, but also a powerful ally in the tough battles to come.”
In order to earn the funds, Proton underwent scrutiny of its team, technology, financials, and stakeholders, it also had to visit Brussels to present itself to the European Commission. The Commission also got input about the firm from citizens and businesses within the EU who use the company’s services to better evaluate suitability.
Proton said that the EU has specific requirements for the funds and most has been set aside for the development of a third product, ProtonDrive, which should boost its global competitiveness. Proton admitted that €2 million may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things but that it will definitely speed up ProtonDrive efforts.